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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hobe Sound Favorites

Beth at Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge

The area around Jonathan Dickinson State Park has lots of other interesting natural attractions, not to mention the shopping and restaurants in surrounding Tequesta, Jupiter and Juno Beach. 

A new spot, to us, was the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge. We've traversed the intracoastal waterway (ICW) through the beautiful waters of Hobe Sound on multiple occasions and now know how to access it from land. This area has beautiful estates, many of which only reveal gates and hedges from the road. Two different areas of Hobe Sound NWR allow access to the atlantic beach and to the ICW.  Helpful volunteers at the visitor center are happy to talk about the natural areas and how to access them. A small aquarium and other exhibits are free to examine before walking the short trails down to the water. 

Hobe Sound looking South from NWR

Hobe Sound looking North

The Atlantic on a Windy Day
When you get tired of cooking at your campsite, lots of good restaurants are close by. One fun place is Harry and the Natives, just North of JDSP.  This local spot has live music in the evening and a big parking lot out back where there is plenty of room to park an oversized van like ours. If you want to see yachting activity on the ICW, The Dive Bar, in Jupiter is a good place, especially if the weather is conducive to sitting outside on the deck. The Jupiter lighthouse park is always worth visiting with a climb to the top providing a panoramic view of the inlet and surrounding area. While we didn't go this time, we did eat dinner at Jetty's which provides a great view of the river and lighthouse. The red lighthouse is decorated with greenery and lights for the holidays. Jetty's can be very popular, so if you go, get there a little before the open at five so you can get seated with a view.

The Dive Bar

Marina at the Dive Bar
Beth, Noah and Me at the Dive Bar - Photo by Jen

Jupiter Lighthouse from Jetty's Restaurant
 After eating out several nights, we needed to get a bit more biking in. Changing things up, we tried a county park recommended by Beth's sister and brother-in-law. Riverbend Park had plenty of parking and pleasant bicycle trails along canals and ponds. Some trails were limited to horses only, but most were open to bikers and hikers. Canoes and kayaks were also available to rent.

Beth and a Chicee at Riverbend Park

Riverbend Park Bicycle Trail

Bent Palm at Riverbend Park

Pond at Riverbend Park
There is one more area of Jonathan Dickinson State Park,  I should remember to mention. We bicycled over to the highest elevation in the park and looked at the information on Camp Murphy.  During World War II, this area of the park was used to train soldiers how to use the new, and secret, RADAR technology.

svIntuition with Bicycles Ready at Camp Murphy

Friday, November 27, 2015

Trapper Nelson

Pontoon Tour Boat "Loxahatchee River Queen III"

Stopped here for Manatees
One of the more interesting activities at Jonathan Dickinson State Park is a tour of the Loxahatchee river. While the river itself is great, make sure you book a tour when the boat will stop at Trapper Nelson's compound. Trapper Nelson was a real character who owned much of the land that is now the park. He ran a small zoo and the rangers will tell you about his life and adventures. The ride is $20 whether they stop at Trapper Nelson's or not.

Eight of us embarked from the River Landing and headed up the Loxahatchee, Seminole for "River of Turtles." We quickly left civilization behind as the boat meandered upstream. Mangroves and palms line the shores instead of mansions and golf courses. Birds, turtles, and manatees provided company along the way.  It is one of the few rivers in Florida to be designated "Wild and Scenic" by the federal government. The beam of the boat couldn't be much wider and still squeeze between the vegetation creeping out into the river as one approaches Trapper Nelson's. The landing reminded me of the Jungle River cruise at Disney World. A ranger met us at the dock to guide us around a fire ant nest (thank you!) as we went ashore. She then gave us a guided tour of the site and answered all our questions. Nelson led a very interesting and unique life combining some of the traits of hermits, entrepreneurs, and tarzan. I highly recommend taking the time to explore this unique pocket of Florida.


Beth protected from the sun


Osprey Nest


Turtle Pen and Soup Pot

Trapper's Jeep


Dock (not accessible at high tide)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Jonathan Dickinson SP

A year ago we bought svIntuition while visiting Beth's relatives in Florida. Johathan Dickinson State Park is the first place we stayed and a perfect spot to return to for a repeat of giving thanks and enjoying togetherness with family. Only 3.5 miles from relatives, the campground couldn't be much more convenient. 

The two distinct camping areas are very different from each other. The only area open this year is near the entrance with big, open spaces suitable for large rigs. Four miles further in, the River Campground is wooded with smaller, shaded sites. Currently closed to upgrade the facilities, we look forward to camping there in the future. 

The Park has many bike trails and we took advantage to allow a little extra room for turkey. We managed to ride  from our campground down to the river and back each day.  For the more adventurous, mountain bike trails and a Pump Track wind around ponds and palm trees. If you don't want to pedal, horses are available for trail rides. Along the way we noticed warning signs about the local reptiles. The first sighting was of a gopher tortoise. The next was a wee bit larger and our first alligator sighting of the trip. The pond was just off the bike trail. We made it a point to stop and check in on him (or her) every day as we pedaled by. Our workouts were made better by gusty breezes blowing in from the Atlantic. It would have been a miserable time to be out there battling a northeast wind in the gulf stream. Here in the park it was a welcome relief from the warmth of the day. At night, the wind (20-30 knots) all week was enough to rock the van and remind us a little of living on a boat.

The park has much more to offer, so we will make more posts on history and the river.


Windy enough to blow over both bikes when we stopped at the river.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Altamaha, End of the Tracks

Looking for a place to camp near  I-95 on a Saturday before Thanksgiving, Beth found the Altamaha Regional Park, outside of Brunswick, Georgia. Fifteen miles inland from the freeway, the park had small sites, right on the river, with full hook-ups for only $24 per night. It is a haven for fishermen and duck hunters. Even if those aren't your interests, the park was a fun and different place to stop.

At one time, the railroad passed right through with a swing bridge allowing boats access to the upper stretches of the river. The bridge no longer swings and the track stops at the shore of the park.

Folks at the park were friendly and helped us back between ATV's and campers to get into our spot. We had a prime view of the river dock where boats with a few guys and an obligatory dog headed out for early morning fishing and hunting adventures.

Facilities were some of the best we've seen at the big bathhouse with eight private rooms containing walk-in showers. The office contains a store and also serves breakfast. The boat launch has fuel at the dock and landside. A modern playground and a boardwalk for bird watching gave a little something for everyone.  It is probably a very busy place in the summer, but in November it was a quiet pause on the road to Florida.

Impressive Bathhouse at Dusk

Office, Store & Restaurant


Our Spot

Headed Out

End of the Line

Close to the River


Info on Local Wildlife under the Gazebo

Swing Your Cares Away

View From our Window

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